One of the worst collapses in professional sports this year occurred in the month of March and April. The team in question was our own Calgary Flames. The losers on ice had a comfortable lead in in February for first place in the NW division. They squandered that in the last quarter of the season, putting in absolutely horrendous efforts and losing valuable points to the league’s worst.
Then again, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The Flames lost to the league’s worst because they have no dropped to be among the league’s worst.
The reasons for their demise? In no particular order.
1. Bad management.
2. Bad leadership.
In reverse order. Injuries.
Injuries were huge, perhaps the single biggest problem. The Flames WILL enter the playoffs without Regher, Giordano, and Sarich, half their defensive corps. They will be gone for AT LEAST two rounds (Regher may return earlier). Phaneuf, Glencross, Roy, Bourque, Bertuzzi, and minor leaguers Boyd and Peters, were all out of the line up at one point, most of them right now.
The losses annihilated the second line for two weeks and the team was literally never the same.
Once the Flames exit the first round of the playoffs most people will point towards the injury problem. Prior the Flames at least had a chance of going deep.
The management were caught with a huge problem. With injuries meant the need for call ups. Because Daryl Sutter couldn’t control the cap problem, or more accurately did a BAD job managing the cap, the team couldn’t even dress a full line up in the last two weeks.
How pathetic is that. Home ice was potentially lost because the Flames needed to save MONEY. Forget about third place, that was kissed away when Dustin Boyd drops down because of money. All while we keep paying cap hits for Nilson, Primeau, and Warrener. yea, remember those guys?
Add in big money Jokinen who’s a bust down the strtch, and Leopold, and you have an organization burned for gambling with cap space. The results? Fans pay for a mediocre product. I still can’t wrap my head around it: a professional sports team couldn’t AFFORD to play a full line up.
Finally, in the face of adversity leadership usually steps up. That means from the GM, to the coaches, to the players.
The GM blew it with cap. The coaches are blowing it with the PP. The players are blowing it on all facets of the game, including the PP. Ok maybe the PK is ok, but everything else is terrible.
Jarome Iginla in years past would carry the team. This year he’s absent in the final two months. He still gets 90 points….but where has he been and why doesn’t he hit people anymore? Better question: why doesn’t Jarome Iginla play defense?.
In the month of March and April he’s only been a plus player 5 times and had seven games without a point. The team itself finished a year under .500 and with less than 20 wins on the road. I thought we fired Playfair because of the road record. Maybe it has more to do with the players and lack of accountability in the room.
Couple that with the importance of the stretch run, how other team play playoff hockey, and how the Flames literally coast to the finish line, and you have a clear picture of why the wheels of come off even before playoff fans have a chance to get on the band wagon.
Oh yea, the powerplay is 0 for 36 and haven’t scored since Detroit March 23rd (which is a long time ago).
Combine these three mishaps and you have a team of minor leaguers struggling to figure out how to score on a PP. This is why we predicted 5th place and an early exit. It was inevitable, the team didn’t want it despite the talent they have on paper.
What’s worse, there is no excuse. Sure injuries will come up, but in reality Calgary had plenty of chances to secure 3rd in the West and turn their game around before the playoffs.
Alas, it look very grim for Calgary Flames fans, having to put up with a great season and a horrific crash and burn finish.
Oh well, at least we’re not Edmonton.